career burnout, stress, waheena wingham, qualified lawyer

In my line of work I often see clients who grapple with the stresses of finding a healthy balance between their work and personal lives. Particularly in the current economic climate where there exists a culture and expectation that one must work  as many chargeable hours as possible. Unfortunately and more often than not, by the time clients come to see me it is too late, they have lost their balance and are left struggling in various aspects of their lives and relationships.

Some of the most common symptoms reported are:

  • Feelings of extreme anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Panic attacks
  • Inability to maintain personal relationships
  • Feelings of isolation and depression.

I have found that trying to help clients to understand their general outlook on life, can be an important part of their process. Analysing the quality of their past and current relationships, their lifestyle and diet can give them some insight into their ability to tolerate and manage their own stress levels.

..Slow down and listen to what your body is trying to tell you.

So, in your line of work it’s vitally important that you don’t forget to take care of yourself because it’s much easier to avoid burn out than it is to overcome it.

Here are a few pointers to help lower the risk of burning out:

  • Maintain healthy boundaries - There is nothing wrong with having ambition, but make sure that you don’t start to take on more work and keep on volunteering for more projects. Before long, you may find that you are trying to work 25 hours a day.  Learn to say no and ask for help when you need it.
  • Stay focused –  Technology has made life easier, as it means people can work from home more. However, it can also make you more anxious because you are contactable 24/7. When you are having an enjoyable time with family or friends, try to ignore your messages. Better still, turn your phone off.
  • Listen to your body – If you start getting headaches, backaches, experience a loss of appetite or can’t sleep, it’s your body’s way of telling you something is up. Slow down and listen to what your body is trying to tell you.  
  • Eat well - Ensuring that you drink enough water, reduce your caffeine intake, cut out processed sugars and eat regularly throughout the day will help improve your mental well being.
  • Remember to breathe – It may sound obvious, but sometimes common sense is the first thing to go when you are stressed. Taking regular breaks may not always be possible but taking a brisk walk on the way to and from work while focusing on your breathing can make a considerable difference. In yoga it is believed that there is a link between breathing and state of mind.  
  • And finally – Your health is more important than anything else – if you can’t cope with the stresses of work then perhaps consider a change of role or department. You’ll thank yourself for it in the long run.

It’s never too late to get help so if you do experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, create time to talk to your friends, family or seek some professional help. The worst thing to do is to keep those feelings to yourself and try to plough on without any support.

Waheena Wingham is a UKCP Accredited and MBACP Registered Integrative Psychotherapist and Counsellor who has a private practice in Central London. www.waheena.co.uk

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Waheena Wingham
I am a qualified, registered integrative psychotherapist and counsellor. I graduated from the Minster Centre with my Masters degree (MA) and Advanced Diploma (Adv. Dip) and have a private practice in London and Chelmsford. Please visit my website for more information.